3) The chefs are not your friends, your audience, or your clients. You owe them nothing but your honesty. â€”Jason Sheehan, food editor for Philadelphia magazine and former dining critic for Seattle Weekly and Westword
It all comes down to money: reviewing is an expensive operation. Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema once estimated he spends about $70,000 a year dining out on the paper's dime. A full-time restaurant critic is also a position that's considered more expendable than, say, political reporting, and a mighty attractive job for budget-slicing newspaper executives to cut.
Back in September, The Atlantic had a similar story a couple days after Sam Sifton left his position at the NY Times, and Pat Bruno was let go by the Chicago Sun-Times. This piece has more on the history of restaurant reviewers, which is worth at least a skim.
Fewer and fewer cities still have an Anton Ego-like personality dominating the food scene. As we noted here last month, Portland, Oregon lost its Ego analogue last year and has been surviving with a young, former crime writer on the restaurant beat (the food scene there flourishes). More and more, as newspapers shed their longstanding reviewers, those reviewers go on to write independently about food generally, and their jobs get folded into the paper's general food-writing staff, such as when the SF Weekly replaced longform critic Meredith Brody with critic/blogger Jonathan Kauffman. The days of the all-powerful critic have already been declared over, but there will always be a need for smart people to write about food in a way that makes you want to eat it or not.
Here are the top 25:
1) Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
2) El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
3) Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)
4) D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)
5) Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)
6) Per Se (New York)
7) Alinea (Chicago, Illinois)
8) Arzak (San Sebastián, Spain)
9) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, England)
10) Eleven Madison Park (New York)
11) Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
12) L'Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon (Paris, France)
13) The Fat Duck (Bray, England)
14) The Ledbury (London, England)
15) Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France)
16) L'Arpege (Paris, France)
17) Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France)
18) L'Astrance (Paris, France)
19) Le Bernardin (New York)
20) Frantzén/Lindeberg (Stockholm, Sweden)
21) Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands)
22) Aqua (Wolfsburg, Germany)
23) Vendôme (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)
24) Mirazur (Menton, France)
25) Daniel (New York)
In the Momofuku kitchens, where chefs are hospitalized for anxiety-related skin diseases, Tosi is calm. Tosi doesnâ€™t yell. There is no need. She is Samantha from â€œBewitchedâ€â€”she is all serenity, because she knows that things will work out fine in the end. If someone screws up in a Dave Chang kitchen, Chang will scream and rage and tell the person he has no integrity and might as well be working at KFC; then he will have to lie down for a day to recover. One imagines that if anyone ever screwed up in a Christina Tosi kitchen, she would wiggle her nose and, with a magic ping, that person would simply disappear.
Also, Chang bought her 240 Take 5 candy bars for her birthday and challenged her to eat them in a month.
I'd think the Globe could find other things to investigate for 5 months, but I'd be willing to forgive that if they had at least headlined the story, "Something Fishy" like I did.
The Spanish club recruited famed chef Ferran Adria on Thursday to revamp its youth academy menu. The European champions say the former El Bulli chef will redesign the club's La Masia meals to 'foster healthy eating and exercise' by providing the Catalan club's future stars with the best possible diet.
*The NY Times reviewed it here.
*With the closing, the media has flocked and told us about it. This article is indicative of the "My Meall at El Bulli" genre.
*Earlier in the month, Mark Bittman wrote about cooking with Ferran Adria.
*An interview with Cooking in Progress maker, Gereon Wetzel.
*From several months ago, but still interesting, the NYTimes talks to several chefs about Adria's legacy. David Chang:
The fact is, he moved the entire spectrum of food in every direction, so that as a chef, even if you donâ€™t like his style, he redefined everything you do. Closing down for half the year to do research? Changing the entire menu, 50 new dishes, every year? Amazing.
*Xanthe Clay calls Adria, "the genius that inspired a thousand restaurant disasters".
*And an interview in GQ talking about 'The Best Chef in the World':
That title doesn't exist. That person doesn't exist. Certainly when one is talking about the best chef in the world, one is referring to the influence that person has had in the field. If you have a lot of influence, then you're one of the best. That individual doesn't exist, and after all I don't work to be the best, I work to enjoy life. The consequence of that is that you're recognized for your work. I like to be recognized, but I don't work for recognition.
Trailer above via Kottke.
I was a manager at Olive Garden and was sent to their culinary institute in Tuscany back in 2007. It was more like a hotel, during the off-season, with restaurant on site. They would let the Olive Garden come and stay in all the rooms and they would use the restaurant as a classroom for maybe an hour here or there and talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute before going site seeing all day. The only time we saw the "chef" was when she made a bolognese sauce while taking pictures with each of us to send to our local newspapers. Basically, yes, they send people to Italy every year. As a manager I still got paid my salary and didn't have to use vacation time, it counted as "work". They paid for everything from meals, sightseeing, flight, everything except souvenirs. But in return, they sent pre-written articles to out local newspaper with fake quotes from me and a group photo. Also every year when they would run the promotion, I was supposed to wear a special "chef" coat and make conversation with guests who ordered the promotional meals.
1. Not acknowledging guests with eye contact and a smile within 30 seconds. First impressions count!
2. Not thanking the guests as they leave. Last impression!
3. Not remembering the guests' likes and dislikes!
4. Not opening the front door for guests.
5. Silverware set askew on the tables.
6. Tabletop that isn't picture perfect.
7. Forks with bent tines.
8. Unevenly folded napkins.
9. Chipped glassware.
10. Tables not completely set when guests are being seated.
11. Dead or wilted flowers on the tables.
12. Tables that are not leveled.
13. Salt and pepper shakers that are half empty.
14. Salt or sugar crusted inside the shakers.